Cumbria’s Third Sector

Cumbria has a large and vibrant third sector, made up of organisations that play a huge role in the life of Cumbrian communities. These organisations range from community groups run entirely by volunteers to large local charities and social enterprises, some of which employ several hundred staff and have a multi-million pound turnover each year.  From the volunteers running our village halls and mountain rescue teams, to the specialist staff working in our hospices and children’s centres, life in Cumbria quite simply wouldn’t be the same without them. The people of Cumbria are at the core – people giving and receiving support, and increasing sustainability of our local economies, environment, culture and heritage.

In 2014, Cumbria had 2850 registered third sector organisations (NRF Trends Study). It is obviously harder to quantify the number of “under the radar” groups, the small groups with no requirement to register, but these are estimated to roughly double the size of the sector, to almost 5000 organisations.

The third sector employs more than 9,000 full time equivalent staff, and the registered organisations alone work with more than 50,000 volunteers. Those volunteers give at least 3.9 million hours of their time for free – a contribution that would cost over £25 million a year if paid at the minimum wage. The third sector as a whole brings around £400m to the Cumbrian Economy (Cumbria Social Enterprise Partnership).


Cumbria Third Sector Network

Cumbria Third Sector Network brings these many diverse organisations together and provides a mechanism for involving them in the planning of local services. The network has mechanisms to select representatives onto Cumbria’s strategic partnerships, and to give the sector a voice to lobby and influence local partners. The network has existed since 2007, and now has a mature and robust relationship with many local statutory sector partners. The network’s structure is illustrated on the diagram overleaf.


Specialist Networks

Cumbria Third Sector Network achieves its structure by bringing together the specialist networks that already exist within Cumbria’s Third Sector. These networks are the “slices” shown on the diagram, with the “outer wheel” showing areas of broad interest, and the “inner wheel” naming the networks that already exist. Most, but not all areas, are currently covered. In this way the Network adds value to the structures that already exists and provides coordinated leadership for Cumbria’s Third Sector. Each network selects a representative(s) to attend meetings of the Cumbria Third Sector Executive.

There is wide variation between the specialist networks – some meet regularly, whilst others exist only as an email network. All must meet minimum standards relating to their membership and selection/support of representatives. The network will encourage, and where possible support, the development of new networks to fill gaps in the current picture.



Cumbria Third Sector Executive

Cumbria Third Sector Executive provides a focus for representation, lobbying and leadership for Cumbria’s third sector.

It is made up of a representative of each of the specialist networks, and has the ability to co-opt additional members who have a significant representative or leadership role in Cumbria’s third sector.

It recruits an independent chair, and elects a vice chair from within Cumbria’s Third Sector. Over recent years, the third sector network has secured representation on many of the key local partnerships, has chaired the Cumbria Leadership Board, and is currently chairing Cumbria’s Public Health Alliance. In 2013/4, Cumbria Third Sector Network led a Welfare Reform Commission on behalf of the Cumbria Leadership Board; this pinpointed where welfare reforms were causing hardship in Cumbria, and made national and local recommendations on how these could be mitigated.


Cumbria Compact Steering Group

The Cumbria Compact creates the framework for developing the relationship between public and third sector organisations in Cumbria, supporting them to work together to strengthen communities and improve the lives of people in Cumbria. The Steering Group oversees its implementation and development, and nominates a representative to attend Third Sector Executive Meetings.


Healthwatch Cumbria

Healthwatch Cumbria aims to act as the consumer champion for health and care service users. It is itself a third sector organisation, but also has a number of statutory powers and roles. Healthwatch Cumbria nominates a representative to attend Third Sector Executive meetings.


Making the Difference

Cumbria Third Sector Network, working through its specialist networks, makes a huge contribution to improving live in Cumbria. Some of the ways it does this are described below:

  • Children and Young People – Enhancing the lives of families, children and young people in need, through collaboration between 200 networked organisations.
  • Health and Wellbeing – Improving the physical and spiritual health and providing support services including ageing, mental health, learning difficulties and substance use.
  • Environment – Protecting and enhancing local environment and their wildlife and providing opportunities for local people and visitors to engage, enjoy and benefit, contributing to community cohesion and local economies.
  • Rurality – Sustaining rural communities through collaboration between rural organisations for addressing rural issues such as energy poverty and rural poverty and influencing for a better policy and delivery framework.
  • Equality and Diversity (including BME, Disability and LBGT) – Fostering good relations that allow challenges to inequality and discrimination, and promoting understanding among diverse communities across Cumbria.
  • Housing – Support for priority gaps in housing and regeneration in communities.
  • Faith – Enhancing community cohesion and supporting the needs of local people through ecumenical community outreach and support.
  • Arts and Culture – Nurturing and developing the cultural heritage and enriching people’s lives through providing opportunities to appreciate and engage.
  • Sports and Physical Activity – Increasing participation in community sport for the benefit of individuals and communities.
  • Economy and Enterprise – Promoting and supporting the development of social enterprises for local services and increasing community sustainability.
  • Transport – Reducing physical and social isolation through promoting and supporting the provision of community transport.
  • Advice and Information – Enabling individuals and communities to secure the necessary advice and information for the support that is available with particular attention to reducing poverty, improving health, housing and employment.
  • Volunteering – Increasing the capacity to provide invaluable services for the local community and increased community cohesion, together with enhancing the quality of life, health and well-being and skills of volunteers.